the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

National levels already famous for his ability to

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national levels, already famous for his ability to count noses, keep a confidence, cultivate colleagues, and let others take credit for political victories that he had actually managed. Both experience and temperament, then, had prepared him to play a leadership role at a most propitious moment in American history. In retrospect, Madison was about to enter the most productive and consequential chapter of what turned out to be a fifty-year career in public service. Madison’s emerging political stature defied his physical appearance, since “little Jemmy Madison” was, at five foot four and 120 pounds, a diminutive young man, forever lingering on the edge of some fatal ailment. Born into a prominent Virginia family with a sizable plantation in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, he enjoyed a sheltered childhood before being sent off to the College at New Jersey (later Princeton) in 1769. Classmates described him as brilliant but paralyzingly shy, perhaps best suited for a career as a schoolmaster or librarian. Madison himself, somewhat morbidly, predicted that whatever career he pursued would be short-lived, given his frailty. As it turned out, he outlived all his classmates and most of his contemporaries, observing near the end that “I ought not to forget that I may be thought to have outlived myself.” 30 Like most members of Virginia’s planter class, Madison was an early advocate of American independence. Though he served briefly in the Virginia militia, the very idea of Madison as a soldier was ridiculous. His natural environment was the political rather than the military battlefield, and his version of leadership, so different from Hamilton’s, was very much a product of his experience in the Virginia legislature, which put a premium on building consensus rather than dashing out in front of the troops in a headlong charge. The collaborative context also fit nicely with Madison’s deep-rooted reticence. For example, while serving with George Mason on a committee to draft a Declaration of Rights for Virginia’s new constitution in the spring of 1776, Madison expanded Mason’s language on religious freedom, going beyond mere toleration to insist that “all men are equally entitled to the full and free exercise of religion.” But he did so silently, allowing Mason, his senior and Virginia’s leading student of political theory, to claim all the credit. Then, eight years later, it was Madison who ushered Jefferson’s draft of a bill for religious freedom through the Virginia legislature, while Jefferson received all the recognition for the landmark law, even putting it on his tombstone as one of his proudest achievements. Madison’s trademark talent was superior preparation. While serving on the Governor’s Council (1778–79), then again in the Virginia legislature (1779–80), he seldom missed a session and always seemed to have more facts at his fingertips than anyone else. Amid the flamboyant orators of the Virginia
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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